Lightning’s Jon Cooper apologizes for ‘skirts’ comment: ‘It was wrong’

jon cooper

Before Jon Cooper’s exit interview news conference Wednesday, he opened up with an apology.

Cooper, the NHL’s longest-tenured coach, had come under fire for saying following Monday’s season-ending loss that you “might as well put skirts” on goalies. He commented on two goaltender interference calls that negated Tampa Bay goals in Game 5 against the Florida Panthers.

“As you know, we had a pretty disappointing series loss the other night and I made an inappropriate analogy about goalies in skirts,” Cooper said. “That is one of those moments, if you could just reach back and grab the words back, I would have. As a father of two and a massive supporter of women’s hockey and girls who play sports, quite frankly, it was wrong.

“I got to go explain myself to my girls. Anyway, I sincerely apologize to all I offended. It has pained me more than the actual series loss itself.”

The Lightning had lost in the first round for back-to-back seasons, this time a 4-1 series defeat to the Panthers, when Cooper made these comments regarding the two disallowed goals. “Net-front battles aren’t allowed anymore? That’s part of everybody’s game,” Cooper said. “The boxing-out that goes there, it’s like prison rules in the playoffs, but it’s not prison rules for the goalie? The second something happens … we might as well put skirts on them then, if that’s how it’s gonna be. They have to battle through stuff, too.”

Cooper realized he had made a mistake soon after and apologized at his first media availability since.

Many criticized Cooper’s “skirts” comment Monday night. But after the apology Wednesday, many applauded Cooper for owning his mistake and being sincere. Brock McGillis, a former hockey player who came out as gay in 2016 and an advocate for LGBTQ+ people in hockey, praised Cooper for being accountable.

“I’m not surprised that he was introspective, recognized that his words matter and apologized,” McGillis tweeted. “We all say or do the wrong thing. Be accountable, apologize and don’t do it again.”

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(Photo: Robert Edwards / USA Today)

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